The pace of Manhattan was slower on the weekends, the clothes more casual, and the street vendors more plentiful. Women in sandals and light summer dresses window-shopped leisurely, while men in shorts and T-shirts traveled in groups, taking in the women and discussing whatever it was men discussed. Dogs of all sizes pranced on the ends of leashes, while children in strollers kicked up their heels or napped. An elderly couple shuffled along hand in hand, still lost in the wonder of each other after years of familiarity.
I was speed-dialing Gideon before I realized I’d thought of it.
“Angel,” he answered. “Are you on your way home?”
“Not quite. I’m done at my mom’s, but I’m going to meet Trey.”
“How long will that take?”
“I’m not sure. Not more than an hour, I think. God, I hope he doesn’t tell me he’s done with Cary.”
“How did it go with your mother?”
“I told her we were getting married on the beach by the Outer Banks house.” I paused. “I’m sorry. I should’ve asked you first.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea.” His raspy voice took on the special timbre that told me he was moved.
“She asked me how we’re planning on lodging everyone. I kinda dropped that on you and the wedding planner.”
“That’s fine. We’ll work something out.”
Love for him spread through me in a warm rush. “Thank you.”
“So the big hurdle’s behind you,” he said, understanding as he so often did.
“Well, I don’t know about that. She got all teary about it. You know, she had big dreams that aren’t coming true. I hope she lets them go and gets on board.”
“What about her family? We haven’t talked about making arrangements for them to come.”
I shrugged, then remembered he couldn’t see me. “They’re not invited. The only things I know about them are what I found with a Google search. They disowned my mom when she got pregnant with me, so they’ve never been a part of my life.”
“All right, then,” he said smoothly. “I’ve got a surprise for you when you get home.”
“Oh?” My mood instantly brightened. “Will you give me a hint?”
“Of course not. You’ll have to hurry home if you’re curious.”
I pouted. “Tease.”
“Teases don’t deliver. I do.”
My toes curled at the rough velvet of his voice. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
“I’ll be waiting,” he purred.
THE traffic near the fair was impossible. Raúl left the Benz in the garage beneath my apartment building, then walked me over to the street fair.
When we were half a block away, I started smelling the food and my mouth watered. Music drifted in the air and when we reached Amsterdam Avenue, I saw that it came from a woman singing on a small stage for a packed audience.
Vendors lined either side of the overflowing street, their wares and heads shielded from the sun by white tent tops. From scarves and hats, to jewelry and art, to fresh produce and multinational eats, there was nothing one could want that couldn’t be found.
It took me a few minutes to spot Trey in the crowd. I found him sitting on steps not too far from the corner we’d agreed upon. He was dressed in loose jeans and an olive-hued T-shirt, with sunglasses perched on the crooked bridge of his once-broken nose. His blond hair was as unruly as ever, his attractive mouth tightened into a firm line.
He stood when he saw me, holding out his hand for me to shake. I pulled him into a hug instead, holding him until I felt him relax and hug me back. Life flowed by around us—New Yorkers were comfortable with all sorts of public displays. Raúl moved a discreet distance away.
“I’m a f**king mess,” Trey muttered against my shoulder.
“You’re normal.” I pulled back and gestured toward the steps where I’d found him. “Anyone would be reeling right now.”
He sat down on the middle step. I perched next to him.
“I don’t think I can do this, Eva. I don’t think I should. I want someone in my life full-time, someone who’s there to support me while I get through school, then try to build my practice. Cary’s going to be supporting that model instead and fitting me in when he can. How am I not going to resent that?”
“That’s a valid question,” I said, stretching out my legs in front of me. “You know Cary won’t be sure the baby is his until a paternity test is done.”
Trey shook his head. “I don’t think it’ll matter. He seems invested.”
“I think it’ll matter. Maybe he won’t just walk away, maybe he’ll play uncle or something. I don’t know. For now, we have to go with the assumption that he’s the dad, but maybe he’s not. It’s a possibility.”
“So you’re telling me to hang in there for another six months?”
“No. If you want me to give you answers, I don’t have any. All I can tell you for sure is that Cary loves you, more than I’ve ever seen him love anyone. If he loses you, it’s going to break him. I’m not trying to guilt you into staying with him. I just think you should know that if you leave, you’re not the only one who’ll be hurting.”
“How is that helpful?”
“Maybe it’s not.” I set my hand on his knee. “Maybe I’m just small enough to find that comforting. If Gideon and I didn’t work out, I’d want to know he was as miserable as I was.”